Welcome to a new season of Predictor Picks, where we’ll be changing up this article from years past. In previous years I’d just have a table with all the picks, and have a small blurb about a handful of games. This year I want to focus more on the picks, give a little bit about each game, and help guide you with more information before you make picks in a pool or place some money down (in Las Vegas, of course).
I started doing some research early in the season last year to try and figure out a better, and more accurate way, to use any edge we may have with the Winning Stats. I found a philosophy, which has been around for years, that is more of an investing strategy than it is a betting strategy, and the final seven weeks of the regular season plus the Playoffs saw me double my initial investment, which gives me some confidence going into 2016 that these picks can pay off for people.
For those of you interested in how it works, and what this strategy would bet on each week, I’ve started a Google Sheet that will track our status throughout the season, which you can find here. I’ll start with $500 for our purposes, so you can get a nice view as to how this works, and see if we’d win money betting strictly based on the computer.
Ok, enough background. The lines you’ll see in our write-up will be from the Westgate SuperContest, but once we get closer to Sunday those lines can be way off. The Google Doc will include a "betting time", so you can see when those picks were locked in. Let’s get to the picks:
Lifetime Record (since 2008): 1052-951-39 (52.5%) ATS, 1297-747-4 (63.4%) SU
2016 Record: 0-0 ATS, 0-0 SU
Panthers (-3) at Broncos - Thursday 8:30 pm ET
Super Bowl 50 rematch features a new starting quarterback for the Broncos, and a Panthers team trying to get a modicum of revenge from their Super Bowl loss, as small as that may be. The Defenses will be the stars, and even though I think the Panthers win, the Broncos will stick around long enough to cover the spread. The Broncos QB situation was not that good all year last year, so starting a guy for the first time really shouldn't be much different. I'll take the home underdog.
Panthers 20, Broncos 18 (SU Win%: 55.2%, ATS Win%: 57.6%)
Buccaneers (+2.5) at Falcons - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
Divisional games in Week 1 can be the most unpredictable games, as teams have obviously changed but for the most part opponents know each other pretty well. The Falcons fell off the face of the planet after coming out of the gate 5-0 & 6-1 last year, while the Buccaneers showed signs of improving, fired Lovie Smith, replaced him with their Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter, and are hoping for lightning in a bottle. Close game so I'll take the points, but pick the home team to win.
Falcons 27, Buccaneers 26 (SU Win%: 51.8%, ATS Win%: 60.4%)
Bills (+3) at Ravens - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
<Elite>Joe Flacco</Elite> is back for the Ravens, who were ravaged with injuries last season, and their's some optimism in Baltimore that they can get back to a Playoff team. The Bills commit dumb penalties and shoot themselves in the foot more than any other team, so while I think they have a better team, I think the Ravens open with a win at home, squeaking by the Bills thanks to a late turnover.
Ravens 25, Bills 24 (SU Win%: 53.5%, ATS Win%: 57.6%)
Bears (+6) at Texans - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
Nobody is giving the Bears any chance this season, while the Texans have a shiny new Quarterback to go with all-world DE J.J. Watt, who appears like he'll play on Sunday. The low expectations are new for the Bears, and something I think will help them early in the season to find their sea-legs. I expect the Texans to win, but only by a field goal.
Texans 22, Bears 19 (SU Win%: 59.0%, ATS Win%: 56.6%)
Packers (-5.5) at Jaguars - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
Jacksonville is getting a lot of love going into 2016, but they open the season against the Vegas Favorite to win the Super Bowl. They may end up being a good team by the end of the season, but I'm not counting on it for Week 1. I'll take the Packers and give the points.
Packers 25, Jaguars 18 (SU Win%: 67.9%, ATS Win%: 55.0%)
Chargers (+6.5) at Chiefs - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
Another divisional game, but this time it's the Chargers flying east and playing early, something they historically don't do well. Add in that their opponent is ready for a big season, and I think the Chiefs start out strong with a solid home win within the division.
Chiefs 26, Chargers 19 (SU Win%: 68.6%, ATS Win%: 53.0%)
Raiders (+1.5) at Saints - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
The Saints have turned into "Drew Brees and a bunch of other guys", while the Raiders have quietly built a very nice roster. I just talked about traveling east for an early game with the Chargers, but the Raiders are a much better team, and the Superdome is nowhere near the house of horrors it was several years ago. I'll take Oakland to win straight up.
Raiders 28, Saints 25 (SU Win%: 58.4%, ATS Win%: 64.3%)
Bengals (-2.5) at Jets - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
This game is close to the Vegas spread, so I'm not disagreeing at all. Bengals pull out a game late thanks to better top-end talent on both Offense and Defense.
Bengals 22, Jets 19 (SU Win%: 58.6%, ATS Win%: 59.8%)
Browns (+4) at Eagles - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
Week 1 is always good for one eye-popping game where you just don't see it coming, and I think this is the one for 2016. Give me Hue Jackson and a focused Robert Griffin against an Eagles Defense that isn't all that good and a rookie QB who may or may not still be hurt.
Browns 24, Eagles 23 (SU Win%: 50.8%, ATS Win%: 66.3%)
Vikings (-1.5) at Titans - Sunday 1:00 pm ET
This line was 6 before Bridgewater got hurt, and while there is some impact the Vikings will feel, their calling cards are with Adrian Peterson and on Defense, where I think they stifle the Titans Offense, forcing them to throw, and it'll play right into the Vikings' strength. Comfortable win for Minnesota.
Vikings 27, Titans 16 (SU Win%: 78.3%, ATS Win%: 68.2%)
Dolphins (+10.5) at Seahawks - Sunday 4:05 pm ET
Season preview coming tomorrow, but the Predictor is extremely high on the Seahawks. I expect a typical game in Seattle where the visiting team is overwhelmed early and often, and Seattle cruises.
Seahawks 31, Dolphins 17 (SU Win%: 84.3%, ATS Win%: 58.9%)
Giants (-1.5) at Cowboys - Sunday 4:25 pm ET
The Predictor has this game identical to the spread and total, so I'm staying away from this one. Toss-up game that'll be full of mistakes in NFC East that I'm glad the Indy Market does not have to suffer through.
Giants 24, Cowboys 23 (SU Win%: 54.0%, ATS Win%: 50.0%)
Lions (+3.5) at Colts - Sunday 4:25 pm ET
Full analysis on Friday. I need to see Andrew Luck play a real game before I believe anything the front office or coaching staff says though.
Lions 27, Colts 24 (SU Win%: 55.7%, ATS Win%: 68.7%)
Patriots (+6) at Cardinals- Sunday 8:30 pm ET
No Tom Brady, but a long offseason for Bill Belicheck to come up with a gameplan against a very good Cardinals team. I expect some kind of voodoo magic to keep the Patriots in the game, and we'll look back afterwards and ask how they hell they did it.
Cardinals 20, Patriots 16 (SU Win%: 60.9%, ATS Win%: 53.5%)
Steelers (-3) at Redskins - Monday 7:10 pm ET
If the Steelers can ever get their three best Offensive players on the field at the same time they'll be extremely good, but without Le'Veon Bell we'll get to see Josh Norman vs. Antonio Brown quite often. I think the Redskins are underrated this preseason, but Pittsburgh will be too much for them Monday night.
Steelers 26, Redskins 24 (SU Win%: 55.4%, ATS Win%: 55.4%)
Rams (-2.5) at 49ers - Monday 10:20 pm ET
This game really should have been regulated to the 4:05 Sunday blackhole time, but instead we get to hear all about two back-up QBs that will most likely not take the field. The 49ers are going to be the worst team in the NFL, so this'll be the first of the Rams 8 wins this year.
Rams 23, 49ers 19 (SU Win%: 59.9%, ATS Win%: 59.8%)